Frank Moffat recently became the CEO of Nouwens Carpets after almost 30 years with Belgotex and a 10 year tenure with the Romatex group. The appointment of Frank Moffat at the helm of this iconic soft flooring manufacturer brings winds of change which will undoubtedly affect the complexion of Nouwens. Marlene van Rooyen, Managing Director at Media in Africa, spoke to Moffat about his new position and what his plans are to embrace the challenges facing the manufacturing sector going forward.
Van Rooyen: How do you feel about your new position?
Moffat: Nouwens’ culture is based on integrity; the brand is well known and synonymous with excellence and I am honoured to join the Nouwens team. I spent over 15 years on the board of Belgotex, holding various senior positions in marketing, sales, manufacturing, operations and product development in the capacity as CEO and then as COO. During this period, I forged exceptional relationships with the trade. I place enormous value on these relationships and my intention is to ensure that these customers remain my priority going forward.
With over 30 years of floor manufacturing experience, mostly at an executive level, I plan to leverage off this experience to facilitate and capture market share for the Nouwens brand. My focus is to ensure that I capitalise on my skills and use this knowledge to underpin the strategic direction for Nouwens whilst maintaining the strong family-owned business culture that has been developed over the years. My intention is to facilitate change without developing a “corporate culture”. I know and understand the flooring industry and my intention is to challenge the status quo and identify what can be done differently within the company to capitalise on the changing market requirements and product development.
Van Rooyen: Why do you feel the company is an ideal fit for you?
Moffat: My business ethic, which is establishing and maintaining good relationships, is based on loyalty, one of the values that I learnt primarily from my professional career mentors, Daniel Dolpire, former CEO of Belgotex, and Stephan Colle, chairperson of Beaulieu International Group. Luci Nouwens, the owner of Nouwens, displays these same values. We both believe that it is critical to be humble, authentic, have integrity and be transparent. We both value customer relationships and believe they are the cornerstone of the business. The fact that I can identify with what Nouwens stands for, makes me exceptionally delighted to be part of the Nouwens team.
Van Rooyen: What business areas are you focussed on developing?
Moffat: Key areas I aim to continue improving are manufacturing efficiencies, sales service, marketing initiatives and product offering. The first part of Nouwens Carpets’ turnaround strategy is to ensure the product offering is focused and well supported. I am committed to ensuring consistent availability of stock, while researching market opportunities for new product development. A major growth area for Nouwens Carpets is artificial turf as more clients are looking for aesthetically pleasing, low maintenance and eco-conscious solutions for outside areas. I am especially looking forward to expanding this category. I also see the expansion of the commercial market as an area of focus and opportunity. Nouwens has the ability to capture more commercial market share and I see this as a perfect opportunity for the brand. I am also particularly excited about introducing some new woollen spun products in an area that is unique to Nouwens.
Van Rooyen: Can you tell us a bit about the company’s background?
Moffat: Nouwens Carpets was established by Cornelis Nouwens in Harrismith in 1962. He started producing textile floor coverings on a converted loom, originally designed for weaving blankets. The team at the company has experienced prosperous and tough times with 2019 being the company’s toughest year to date. However, the new strategic direction is gearing us for a decade of unique opportunities that our entire business is excited about.
Now more than ever, there is a need for the Nouwens Carpets brand in the market. Our production, sales and technical teams are ready to bring about change in 2020. We at Nouwens believe that buying local is more important than ever to support the South African economy and secure local employment.
What are the effects of COVID-19 on the flooring industry as we emerge from lockdown?
Moffat: We should expect that the Covid-19 crisis will change our businesses and society in important ways. It is likely to fuel new ideas and consumer requirements in different areas. When the urgent part of the crisis has been navigated, we will be reviewing our position and will reflect on and what we have learned so that we can amend our strategic plans accordingly.
Along with the severe health and humanitarian crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the manufacturing and construction sectors face enormous challenges. Several factors have influenced the market, including the collapse of customer demand due to a National Lockdown compounded by significant changes in government regulations. In conjunction with the effects of the Covid-19 crisis, the business side needs to find ways to recover and we at Nouwens are amending and formulating new plans.
We expect demand for product to steadily increase as we move through the various levels and regain some momentum in the ensuing months. I will implement reporting cycles so that the business can understand how demand is being affected, what mitigation is required, and how quickly our operations are recovering and moving forward post Covid-19.
Van Rooyen: What new Nouwens Carpets ranges are launching currently?
Moffat: We are thrilled to be launching the new focussed product collections – Nouwens Wool, Nylon, Easifibre and Fieldturf Collections. The unique Nouwens Wool Collection, all ranges with over 80% pure new wool, now includes top selling colours in Rustique and Berber Look along with favourites Copenhagen and Kirman. Nylon Collection includes Berckley, Chenille and Pinto top three colours, while the Easifibre Collection incorporates Attitude, Icon, Entertainer and Stereo top sellers.
The Commercial Tiles Collection includes Index, Exact, Eclipse, Renaissance, Picasso and Accent colours and the new Fieldturf Collection has Kikuyu, Kentucky, Paspalum, Bent and Bermuda Turf options. I am looking forward to the incredible opportunities in the tufted broadloom, tile and turf markets for Nouwens.
Van Rooyen: What does the future hold for Nouwens Carpets?
Moffat: Trading will remain tough in the short to medium term with almost every market segment impacted by the pandemic. During this time, Nouwens will follow a very systematic, predetermined and planned direction to improve all aspects of our business while remaining mindful of managing overheads and maintaining customer expectations and experiences. Sustainable product innovation will remain a key aspect of our growth trajectory.
Watch this space!!
And on a final note, we would like to thank our clients for entrusting their business to us. While we understand that business going forward will be under pressure, we look forward to a continued mutually beneficial relationship.
ED’s NOTE: We wish Frank and Luci together with the Nouwens team the very best of luck in ringing in the changes. We look forward to following the journey with Nouwens this year and into the future!
Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Nouwens Carpets for the information in this article.
For more information, contact Nouwens Carpets:
Tel: 011 608 4435
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